COOK ISLANDERS SUPPORT INDEPENDENCE FOR FRENCH POLYNESIA

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By Mele Laumanu Petelo

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (September 21, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS)---Hundreds of Cook Islanders have added their support to the goal of independence for French Polynesia.

A petition signed by several hundred supporters, collected by pro-independence Tahitians visiting Rarotonga and led by Oscar Temaru, was presented to the Cook Islands government last Friday.

Member of Parliament from Mauke Island, Vaine Tairea, accepted the petition on behalf of his colleagues but it is unlikely the signatures will get an official, positive reaction from the Cook Islands government.

Cook Islander Terangi Little, speaking on behalf of the visitors from French Polynesia when presenting the petition to MP Tairea, said the signatures were collected over just a twelve-hour period.

Tairea said there is nobody in the Cook Islands government who does not support the French Polynesia pro-independence movement, but "the Tahitians have to understand the protocol on all this." A small country like the Cook islands, he said, "can't arrange the agenda" on this.

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